Guns: Examine your conscience - Obama

2013-01-14 22:29

Washington - President Barack Obama said on Monday he's reviewing a list of proposals on how to reduce gun violence and expects to present specifics later this week, even as the country's top gun lobbying group insists Congress doesn't have enough votes to pass a ban on assault weapons that Obama says makes sense.

Obama told the final news conference of his first term in office that stronger background checks, a "meaningful" ban on assault weapons and limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines are all ideas he said make sense.

He said he's not sure how many of those measures can pass Congress, but he can also use the executive power of his office to make change.

Obama said he expects Congress to set aside politics and focus on common-sense steps that can make a difference.

"Members of Congress are going to have to... examine their own conscience," he said.

Obama asked Vice President Joe Biden to lead a task force on ways to reduce violence after the December school shooting in Connecticut that killed 27 people, mostly children, exactly one month ago.

Obama is expected to announce the next steps on gun violence after he is inaugurated over the weekend and enters his second term.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has so far prevented passage of another assault weapons ban like the one that expired in 2004.

But some lawmakers say last month's school shooting, by a gunman with a legally purchased high-powered rifle, has transformed the debate and that Americans are ready for stricter gun laws.

The NRA, with a history of punishing lawmakers who stray from its point of view, disagrees.

"When a president takes all the power of his office, if he's willing to expend political capital, you don't want to make predictions," NRA president David Keene told CNN on Sunday.

"You don't want to bet your house on the outcome. But I would say that the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get an assault weapons ban through this Congress."

US speaks up

States and cities also have a say. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders had a tentative deal to enact the nation's first gun control measure since the Connecticut shooting, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

That would further tighten gun laws in a state that already has among the nation's strictest. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the proposal had not been discussed among all legislators.

And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued his vocal call for stricter gun control, urging Obama and Congress to increase background check requirements for firearms purchases and get tougher on gun trafficking.

"These guns are not designed for sport or home defence," Bloomberg said.

"They are designed to kill large numbers of people quickly."

Meanwhile, US senators plan to introduce a bill that would ban assault weapons and limit the size of ammunition magazines.

But Republican Senator John McCain responded with a flat-out "no" when asked on Sunday on CBS whether Congress would pass a ban.

The NRA and other pro-gun groups insist that gun control conflicts with that Second Amendment guarantee, while others say the country's founders more than two centuries ago could not have imagined the kind of high-powered guns available now.

Keene says the group represents its members and not just gun manufacturers.

Gun control

"We know what works and what doesn't work," Keene said. "And we're not willing to compromise on people's rights when there is no evidence that doing so is going to accomplish the purpose."

Instead, the NRA is pushing for measures that would keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

Currently, a person is banned from buying a gun from a licensed dealer if the person is a fugitive, a felon, convicted of substance abuse, convicted of domestic violence, living in the US illegally or someone who "has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution".

States, however, are inconsistent in providing information about mentally ill residents to the federal government for background checks.

The non-governmental Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said about 40% of gun sales happen with no background checks, often at gun shows or through private sellers over the internet or in classified ads.

  • donovanjohn.linley - 2013-01-14 23:16

    The NRA have far too much power as a gun lobby ... I Obama has the capacity to pass stricter gun laws and implement bans.

      jack.russel.14268769 - 2013-01-15 00:21

      Ye Im sure the gangs and criminals will gladly hand in their guns- good idea- in the mean time lets continue with a million abortions a year, apparently that doesn't affect society, lets keep releasing the movies, video games and music we do- it's not their fault. Lets look at gun ban statistics in South Africa and Australia, KILLER results.

      petrus.ngwenya.3 - 2013-01-15 06:40

      @jack Read a book called Freakonomics, and you might change your mind regarding abortions. I play the most violent video games there are available, I watched the whole SAW series, I loved a movie called Full Metal Jacket, and the only people I really have fantasies about killing are the ignorant who claims that these things make them violent. Take responsibility. Crazy people are crazy. Now if only we could ban killer dessert spoons. People who use dessert spoons frequently have a higher chance of heart attacks and other weight related illnesses. More people die of heart attacks everyday than gunshots. Dessert spoons are the REAL unaknowledged killer in our midst.

  • thom.jefferson.7330 - 2013-01-14 23:34

    Checklist for examining my conscience: 1. Am I responsible for sending weapons to drug cartels that resulted in a border agent’s death and then hiding behind executive privilege despite claiming to be transparent? a. No 2. Have I continued the Unconstitutional wars started by my predecessor that I campaigned against which result in far more deaths on both sides than any recent tragedy? a. No 3. Do I pal around with, and fail to admonish, Gangster rappers like Jay Z and Common who promote gun violence with each CD sold? a. No 4. Do I no longer have to be concerned for my safety since tax dollars will pay to protect me (using guns) for the remainder of my life? a. No 5. Am I using the emotions of current tragedies to pass toothless legislation aimed at law abiding citizen’s rights while surrounding my ploy with impotent words that do nothing to solve the root cause of the issue but will certainly make me look good to my political base? a. No Looks all clear for me, someone forward this test to the White House and see how they do.

      simphiwe.charlie.5 - 2013-01-15 06:50

      my thoughts exactly, how can they "examine their own conscience" when they don't have any?

      saamprater.saampraat - 2013-01-15 06:59

      6) Do guns kill people or do people kill people? a) No 7) Do an un-armed citizenry keep a Dictator in check? a) No Agh,the list is endless

  • Ndangah Alan Mmberegeni - 2013-01-15 07:20

    gun does not kill people, people kill people, people stop the killing of innocent citizen

  • bill.mckimm.9 - 2013-01-15 07:51

    The sad thing about being a popularist president is when you step aside from the popularist clap-trap and try and do something worthwhile everone looks at your motives. Good luck Mr President!

  • andrew.cooks.5 - 2013-01-15 07:52

    It’s not the gun that killed 27 people you buffoon... It’s the psycho behind the gun that grew up with violence pumped into his thoughts from childhood. Remove violence from TV's, games and the internet and misfortunes like this would never happen.

  • saabir.mahomed - 2013-01-15 07:59

    Right, taken from an administration that uses drones to shoot down people, creates wars on lies, has concentration type prisons namely guantanamo and is the world leaders in weapons making, has an attitude to shoot first and ask questions later!!! What an example to the public!,

  • dylan.sciarappa - 2013-01-15 08:23

    I'm very surprised that no one mentions big pharma and it's out of control anti depressants and psycotropic drugs been given to the American people at an unprecedented level. Surely a nation on drugs wether 'legal' or not is bound to start going off the rails at some point

  • patricia.hattingh.75 - 2013-01-15 09:40

    And while everyone is going on, again, about violent video games, movies, etc don't forget to lump cartoons in with the violent movies because there is nothing worse than Wile E. Coyote falling time and time again from mountain tops or being blown up on a regular basis, now tell me that is not violent!!! Let me re-iterate, if parents would spend more time with their children, teach them what is right and what is wrong instead of using said movies, games etc as "baby sitters", which I'm sure are bought for the kids in the first place, regardless of Age Restrictions on the games, I doubt there would be "crazy kids" running around wanting to take out anything and everyone that they come across..........

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